The images in the following program are highly sensitive and may be as disturbing to viewers as they were to us. However, we have to show the truth about cruelty to animals, praying that you will help to stop it.

This is the Stop Animal Cruelty series on Supreme Master Television. This week we examine the role our animal co-inhabitants played during the holy occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ and see how these beings are treated more than 2,000 years later during Christmas, a blessed celebration of Jesus coming to our world.

2011 Years ago …

The sacred story begins when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth to deliver a message to Mother Mary about Jesus Christ. According to Luke 1:32-33, the Angel Gabriel said: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

At the time Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, issued an order that a census must be taken of all the people in the Roman Empire and so everyone returned to their hometown to register. Thus Joseph traveled with Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Such a long journey would have been very challenging and tiring for an expectant mother. Mary rode upon a donkey who gladly offered his services to the Lord and the Christ to be born.

On arriving at Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn due to the census, so Joseph took Mary and sought shelter in the humble home of cows and donkeys, a barn filled with straw. The cows happily welcomed Mary and Joseph with kindness and unconditional hospitality. After the birth of the baby Jesus, all the animal co-inhabitants rejoiced.

The animals lovingly offered their straw for the couple to lie on and their manger as a crib for the baby Jesus. At nighttime a dog kept vigil while the doves, harbingers of peace, cooed soft, sweet melodies to infant Jesus to help him sleep soundly. The animals also warmed the gentle infant with their breaths. And so it was that the Redeemer came to Earth through God’s Grace and with the benevolent protection of these animal angels.

2011 Years later …

Every year during the Christmas season, millions of factory farmed animals are killed and then served as part of holiday meals. In fact in the US alone, it is estimated that 20 million turkeys are slaughtered annually for Christmas. Turkeys, just like the doves in the Nativity story, are members of the avian species and are very intelligent and caring animals.

Professor Ian Duncan, an expert on domestic fowl at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada has stated that, “Turkeys possess marked intelligence [as] revealed by such behavioral indices as their complex social relationships, and their many different methods of communicating with each other, both visual and vocal.”

Stuffed into dark, windowless sheds by the thousands, turkeys as well as chickens undergo severe suffering due to their obscene living conditions. The exploited birds spend much of their time wading in their own feces and urine which causes burns on their bodies. Parasitic and bacterial infections go untreated. In such an utterly filthy environment, bird flu runs rife.

The birds are fed an unnatural diet filled with antibiotics in order to quickly fatten them up for the holiday season. Many of the turkeys become crippled as they put on weight 10 times faster than they would normally, with this massive weight gain causing internal organ damage.

You go into one of those (turkey) farms, and we have hours of footage of this, where you literally find it difficult to even move through the animals because they are so packed in. So you’ve got these huge, overgrown animals that have been selectively bred to be much too big for their age. They can barely walk because of their overgrown size, and they just about shift away from you as you try to walk through them, and just seeing animals who are just dead lying on the floor, who’ve just been left there, even worse in some ways, injured animals who are just left untreated, and just the general state that they are in.

And the irony is that people are going to kill these (turkeys) to celebrate the life of Jesus Christ, it’s Christmas. I just find that horrifically ironic that people celebrate what is supposed to represent kindness, compassion, mercy, charity, and all those noble attributes of the human being with something that is so disgusting.

And what of the cows that gave up their home to shelter Mary and Joseph in their time of need? The production of beef and dairy products is beyond inhumane.

People don't realize the abuse in the dairy industry is equally as bad as in the beef industry, that these animals are kept pregnant their whole lives. And a dairy cow only lives now about five years instead of the 20 that they would normally live, because they're constantly impregnated to keep the milk flowing. And their bodies are worn out by the time they are five years old. And they're sent off to the slaughterhouse to be made into cheap hamburger meat.

Dairy cows are probably the most miserable animals on Earth, because they can have their babies taken away the day that they’re born. They’re milked and they’re kept pregnant and their bones fall apart by the time they are five years old, from giving all that milk and producing all those calves. It's not a nice thing we do to these animals, and our bodies suffer also.

And what is the fate of dogs during this season of merriment? Sadly this time of year sees a high rate of dog euthanasia by animal shelters due to the abandonment of canines given as Christmas presents. These living “gifts” may end up unwanted and be thrown into the cold, harsh streets where they suffer from starvation, thirst and exposure.

Finally they may be picked up by the city and put to death by gassing or lethal injection if no one adopts them within a short period. The Dogs Trust, the largest dog welfare charity in the UK, has a program to discourage the gifting of canines during Christmas.

Adam Levy, assistant manager of the Dogs Trust rehoming center in Harefield, West London, says that during Christmastime in the UK thousands of dogs are abandoned and adds, “The weeks after Christmas are traditionally one of our busiest periods because lots of people are given puppies as unwanted presents, or people who wanted a dog soon realize they require a lot of time and effort which they are not prepared to give.” What about the lambs that are often depicted in nativity scenes sweetly gazing at baby Jesus?

Before being slaughtered, lambs have a number of horrific procedures carried out on them. At only a few days old males are castrated, usually by having an extremely tight plastic ring placed around their genitals, thus cutting off the blood supply and the reproductive organ eventually withers and falls off. This is excruciatingly painful and done without pain killers or anesthetics.

The babies also have their ears tagged by piercing and undergo “tail docking” where the tail is either cut off or has an extremely tight plastic ring placed on it, which similar to castration, causes the tail to shrivel and fall off. The noble donkey carried Mother Mary a long distance to Bethlehem. In many parts of the world today, donkeys and mules endure disrespect, torture and abuse. The Donkey Sanctuary, located in the beautiful countryside of County Cork, Ireland rescues our donkey friends who have been maltreated.

Eugene and Pat are rescuing a young donkey called Michelle from a life of cruelty and neglect.

The guards are sorting it all out now and in a couple of minutes we will be able to put the donkey on the wagon and leave. She is fairly bedraggled, isn’t she? She has sores all along her back and she is absolutely skin and bone.

Where they have tied the rope around her neck, it has actually just started to get imbedded in her neck here. Her feet have been cut. You can see where they have actually cut it with a saw. Her feet are probably turned right up now, but they cut it with a saw. She obviously may have had an infestation of lice, If she knew where she was going, she would be dancing.

Now, there’s a good girl.

The next few weeks are critical for Michelle. The vet’s report shows that she is severely malnourished and underweight. She has chronic skin sores, a bad infestation of lice, and has difficulty walking because her feet have been badly damaged.

The treatment of our fellow animal co-inhabitants during the Christmas season is nothing short of barbaric. Supreme Master Ching Hai addressed this topic during a gathering of our Association members in London, UK on Christmas Eve 2006.

And I don’t think Christ, Jesus Christ, has ever desired or taught his disciples in those times, or now even, that He ever want them to do like this. Or to celebrate Christmas by killing thousands and billions, thousands of millions of turkeys or chickens or pigs or pork or you know beef or whatever in the name of Christ. This is really all wrong! They should all stop this! Because in the name of Christ, He is Love. He is Love incarnate.

Let us commemorate every Christmas with love. May our love expand to our family and friends, our brothers and sisters across all nations, as well as all the animals whom God has bestowed upon our planet to bless and help us, like they did when Jesus was born. Please think compassion when buying your meals during Christmas and the rest of the year. Let only cruelty-free alternatives like mock turkey meat, veggie ham and sausages, soymilk and vegan cakes and cookies fill our tables and tummies, creating peace and happiness for all.

Thank you for your presence today on Stop Animal Cruelty. May all beings have a wondrous and joyful Christmas with an abundance of blessings from the Creator.